FORT MYERS, FLA — One week into the new school year and masks were back at the top of the Lee County school board agenda.
"Fear is false evidence appearing real. This however is child abuse," said a Southwest Florida woman.
And when it came to a potential mask mandate within the Lee County School District, dozens of parents, students, and community members showed up with similar views.
"Masks make us upset. It made my sister cry a lot last year," said a six-year-old boy named Michael.
"You may have covered my mouth for a year but you can never silence me," said a Lee County student.
As of now, Lee county schools started off the school year with masks being required, but parents and guardians are allowed to opt their child out of that policy.
"We will not comply," said a Lee County student.
Despite the large majority who voiced concerns about masks in schools, there were also those who wanted them.
"By removing masks from the schools we're removing a protective measure that not only protects the students but also the teachers," said a Lee County teacher.
"With 90-thousand students unvaccinated, unmasked in close contact it is a recipe for calamity, a recipe for disaster," said a Southwest Florida man.
The debate got so heated at several points, that the board eventually threatened to end the meeting early.
In the end, they were able to get control of the crowd after a break and a stern warning...
"It hurts my heart to see people being taken out of here. We're adults," said board member Gwynetta Gittens.
Several school board members said the only reason they oppose a mask mandate in area schools, was because they are afraid of the punishments threatened by Governor Ron DeSantis and the state Department of Education.
Others said they support masks but felt that a mask mandate was impossible to enforce.